Jakub Kindl Surprises in Return for Red Wings

Jakub Kindl has not suited up for the Detroit Red Wings since they played the Ottawa Senators on December 27th, 2014. He sustained an elbow injury in practice the very next morning, and spent the better part of a month healing. Despite the fact that he was medically cleared to play in late January, Kindl has not managed to crack Detroit’s line-up. Questions about his compete level and the strong play of Xavier Ouellet and Alexey Marchenko has kept him out of the line-up.

When the announcement came that Kindl would replace Kyle Quincey (day-to-day with a LBI) on Detroit’s second defensive pairing, you could hear the collective groan from Red Wings fans. Going into Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars, Kindl played in just 28 games for Detroit, putting up nine points.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

Kindl looked engaged from the beginning of the game last night. He was willing to take a hit to make a play, and even demonstrated some physicality in the corners. Kindl also broke up a few rushes, and smartly defended a two-on-one chance against the Stars. His most noteworthy contributions, though, would come at the beginning of the third period.

Kindl’s shot from the point is one of his known assets, and this goal is a good example of that. He has always had a knack for getting the puck on net. Tomas Jurco and Luke Glendening did most of the grunt work, and Drew Miller did a good job of screening Lehtonen in front. Just 45 seconds later, Kindl would get his second goal of the night.

This goal is definitely more impressive than the first. Kindl recognizes that Datsyuk is trailing behind him, and joins the play himself. He follows up on Tomas Tatar’s rush, and puts himself in a great spot to receive a pass or knock in a rebound.

So what does this all mean? At the very least, Kindl had a solid game in his return to the line-up. He has always had solid offensive instincts – it’s Kindl’s compete level and physicality that have come into question. Chances are that Quincey will return to the line-up sooner, rather than later. It will be interesting to see how he fares in his second game back against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Night of Firsts

Detroit’s offensively charged game against the Dallas Stars was full of firsts. Perhaps the most interesting one comes from the Detroit Red Wings’ website:

“According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Wings are the first team to trail by two goals or more in the third period, tie the game, and fall behind again by at least two goals before eventually winning the game since Jan. 16, 1934 when Toronto earned a 7-4 win over Ottawa.”

While the back-and-forth play probably took a toll on Mike Babcock’s blood pressure, it was certainly fun to watch as a fan.

The game also marked two other firsts: It was Kindl’s first two-goal night at the NHL level, and it was also the first time Detroit has scored seven goals this season.